By Vinnie Lione-Napoli
Arts & Entertainment Co-Editor
Ever since I lost my iPhone 4S in Rome last June—-I know, petty complaint—-I started waiting with bated breath for the inevitable release of the next line of Apple smartphones. Lo and behold, the tech giant recently announced not just one iPhone, but two iPhones set for a Sept. 20 release.
Apple has been behaving somewhat strangely as of late. The firm is allegedly developing an iPhone with a larger screen for release next year, which would further close the gap between the iPad line and their phone products. Once the iPhone 6 and the iPad Mini are basically the same size, which device will consumers choose to read e-books or play the latest Angry Birds game?
Consumers seem to buy just about everything Apple cranks out, though. I myself am an inadvertent victim of this trend, considering I received the first-generation iPad as a gift a few years ago. To this day—besides showing my friends that, yes, you can use iPads to go on the Internet—all I can remember doing with that slab of technology has been watching Netflix while laying in bed.
This isn’t all that bad, though. Other companies are creating “needs” for consumers, and consumers in turn are using devices they didn’t know they wanted to do things they could easily do elsewhere. Sure, I could’ve sat upright and watched Netflix on my laptop, but I wanted to be lazy and lay in my bed. Sue me.
Netflix was built on these principles of perceived “needs” and laziness anyway. We didn’t want to drive to the closest movie rental store. We needed our movies delivered directly to our doors, forcing mailmen across the country to become unwilling cohorts in the systematic annihilation of Blockbuster.
The rise of Netflix has led to more than just the downfall of the neighborhood rental spot, however. The ability to order virtually any film or television series, old or new, for prompt delivery is damaging enough to any vendors of these products.
But the straw that’s currently breaking the camel’s back is Netflix’s online streaming service. Cable television is already struggling to provide enough incentive for viewers to not simply watch popular shows once they pop up online the next day. With Netflix, consumers have an even broader catalog of shows to binge-watch at their leisure, without needing one of those expensive cable subscriptions.
True, Netflix won’t have the latest episode of “Breaking Bad” available on their service for a few months. But what they can do—and are doing—is provide something you can’t simply flip on your TV to watch.
Forget CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX. Netflix is the next major player in quality television.
Over the recent years, the aforementioned “Big Four” networks have been…slacking off, to say the least. A startling amount of new shows rarely survive until their second season. NBC canceled around 10 shows from this past season, including a Dane Cook sitcom that they hadn’t even aired. Remember “Go On,” that comedy-drama starring Matthew Perry? Of course you don’t. NBC canned that thing. Poor Matthew Perry. This is the third show in six years—and second on NBC alone—that he got booted from after a single season.
There’s a reason for these yearly purges. The shows being cranked out by the major networks, simply put, just haven’t been very good.Critics are not particularly thrilled with the 2013-2014 offerings, either. FOX noticed how overwhelmingly poorly their new Giovanni Ribisi/Seth Green sitcom “Dads” was doing with them, so they released a promo that essentially told fans to ignore critics. Now that’s sad—-and a little hilarious.
Not to pick on NBC again, but from a sitcom standpoint, I’m amazed at how far they fell from grace. Granted, they’re no CBS, who has refused to transition past tacky laugh-track sitcoms, but what happened to their golden eras of “Friends”/“Seinfeld” and “30 Rock”/“The Office”? Some of the greatest sitcoms of all-time have been muddled away by drek like “Whitney” and “Outsourced.” Soon, fans are going to forget these fantastic shows ever even aired on NBC in the first place.
This brings me back to Netflix, where the playing field is even and the networks don’t matter. No one’s going to stop you from streaming ABC’s anticipated-yet-disappointing one-season dramas “Flashforward” or “The Event.” They’re there if you need them.
Recently, Netflix has done the impossible: they revived the beloved sitcom “Arrested Development” after seven years of nonexistence. That’s right, since FOX royally dropped the ball, Netflix was able to swoop in and save the day.
Now with the release of “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” Netflix appears poised to stay on top. With the former featuring a heavy dose of political debauchery and high-profile actors such as Kevin Spacey, the future certainly looks bright.
“Orange Is the New Black” has been the original release that’s been setting the Internet abuzz, though. This often-humorous drama is set in a women’s prison and features a stellar ensemble of characters. With a “Lost”-esque flashback-style narrative that delves deeper into these fascinating people, binge-watching the show to get the full story is almost a necessity. And by releasing entire seasons at once, that’s seemingly what Netflix wants viewers to do.
The show is so fantastic that Netflix confirmed a second season before they even released the first.
Take that, NBC.
These days, if you asked anyone if they could find a show as good as “Mad Men” or “Boardwalk Empire” on any of the major networks, they’d think you were insane.
Sure, some come close, but “close” is still pretty far when you’re talking about this level of quality. AMC, HBO and the like aim to impress, not simply attract.
If you take a simple look at the nominations for the upcoming Emmys, you’ll see that HBO leads the race with a whopping 108 nods for a wide variety of programs. Their biggest star, “Game of Thrones” only takes up 16 of these, or 14.8 percent. While NBC managed to scrape up 53, 13 of these are for the departing “30 Rock” and 15 are for the somehow-still-existent “Saturday Night Live.” That’s over 50 percent of the nods for just two time-tested shows.
The stellar “Breaking Bad” might take up exactly half of AMC’s nods, but AMC currently broadcasts five scripted programs. So while “Modern Family,” arguably the best show on ABC, only accounts for only a quarter of the network’s nods, the playing field is a bit different.
Network television needs to learn a lesson from these cable and premium networks. Keep us happy, not just the studio executives. We don’t want tired premises with mediocre writing infesting our TV screens anymore. No one wants to pay for that, let alone needs to pay for that.
Soon, in droves, they’ll want to and need to pay for Netflix to keep up with the quality television they’ve been craving.
Netflix has taken over television. They’ve successfully turned my wants into needs and then some. I don’t know where I’d be without Netflix anymore.
Granted, I felt the same way about my old iPhone. Maybe the next big thing is all we need to imagine life without Netflix. In any case, I’m fine with the way things are.